Flexible sigmoidoscopy is the visual examination of the lining of the lower intestine (sigmoid colon) and rectum.
The purpose of the exam is to identify any abnormalities by inserting a flexible fiberoptic tube into the anus. In the procedure, only the latter part (1-2 feet) of the lower intestine is examined.
The day prior to your procedure, purchase 2 (two) Fleets enemas from your pharmacy. The day of your procedure (ideally 1-2 hours before your leave home), insert the first Fleets enema rectally (directions are included with the enema). Try to hold it for several minutes before expelling it. Repeat this procedure with the second Fleets enema 20-30 minutes later. Do not eat after midnight. Liquids are allowed up to the time of your examination. If you have an afternoon appointment, you may have a light breakfast on the morning of your procedure. You may take your usual medications. If you are an insulin-dependent diabetic, consult your doctor regarding insulin dosage prior to this exam.
A tube, which is about the thickness of your finger, is slowly passed into the rectum and sigmoid colon.
Flexible sigmoidoscopy is safe and is associated with very low risk. Complications that could occur but are very rare, include perforation (rupture) of the sigmoid colon, and bleeding if a biopsy is taken.
You will be asked to undress from the waist down. A towel wrap will be provided. You will be asked to lie on the sigmoid table. A lubricating jelly will be placed in your rectum before the sigmoidoscope is inserted. The instrument used is a flexible fiberoptic endoscope. It is flexible so it can pass through the “S” shaped sigmoid colon. It allows the doctor to visualize the inside of the lower part of the colon. Passage of the scope may cause some discomfort. For diagnostic purposes, biopsies can be obtained of the bowel lining or of polyps or growths, if needed. The sigmoidoscopy procedure itself will take from 5-15 minutes. You can expect to feel bloating for about 30-60 minutes afterwards. This sensation will be relieved as gas is passed.
Your doctor will discuss the findings of the exam at the time of the procedure and provide you with instructions to follow when you return home.
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